“Home is a place you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to.” J.E. Pearce
Going home. No place like home. Homecoming. Make yourself at home. It’s good to be home. Home sweet home………
As 2016 opened a winter walk in the neighborhood found me saying aloud, into the chilly night air, that change was on the horizon. An inevitable transition awaited. Though I could not know exactly what, there were signs and whispers in the months prior and I just kept going with it. And going with it. Like being pulled into a jet stream of trust. We placed our home on the market in April. We sold our house of 18 years in 8 days and packed it all up to move in 8 weeks. The process was very fast paced, dizzying, yet somehow smooth as moves go. No time to think about the impact of it all. No time to process or reflect. No time to get cold feet. Just time to purge, push, pack, plan…all in time for the moving truck to arrive, the closing to happen. Downsize. Simplicity. Some freedom and time back.
I really felt I had it all together and didn’t really feel impacted by the move. Everything was organized and planned. So what came as the surprise after moving into our new home across town on July 1 was a bit unexpected and unwelcome. A derailing sense of uprootedness. How could it be? We only moved across town. So many sames. Same grocery market, post office, gas station, town hall. Same zip code. Everything the same, but the home. A dear friend wrote to me and shared: “You’re like a long rooted plant, you are transplanted. Will take a while for roots to settle and find new growing pattern.” She was so very right. And it makes perfect sense. The roots had been uplifted. We really were transplanted.
I felt so untethered that first week I could hardly find my feet, my balance. And everyone around me saw the impact. They worried about me. I worried about me. For as put together and calm as I felt preparing for the move, I was equally as disheveled, exhausted and tilted in the week following the move. The new home had a cyclone feel. Nothing had order or purpose. Nothing felt right or rooted. Then very little by little the new home took a new bit of order. Things began to fall into place. A place for this. A shelf for that. By functioning and living in the new space we slowly started to settle in.
But remarkably it wasn’t being in our new home that provided redirection of the move. Rather it was going home, all the way back home to where I grew up in Connecticut. My Uncle got sick and died very unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. Too fast. Sad to the root we all felt, still feel. He passed only 83 days after his wife, my aunt. I needed to spend some time with my three cousins before the memorial service. We all grew up with the blessing of living only a couple of miles away. We saw each other all the time in those growing up years. Visiting my cousins’ childhood home, even turning the visit into a sleepover, was an immediate pull back to life in the 70’s. Everything I knew of my life was there in a few mile radius. My cousins’ house. The adjacent little league field. My middle school. My elementary school. My high school. My road. My childhood house. My childhood friends still a few houses up the road. My life. All there, but no longer there.
I felt again after so many years the overwhelming feeling of the times I departed from that first home, that place in my life. First leaving for college three hours away. Leaving again for graduate school in Boston. And then leaving for last time when I got married. That third time was the last departure from that life to the next one, this one – 25 years ago. While reflecting, I recalled the unexpected and unwelcome feeling of uprootedness. Wasn’t I supposed to be a happy newlywed on to a new life? Yet I felt the crushing feeling of being pulled away from all that was known. My family. My life. My grandmother. Years of memories. Sobbing driving north on the Merritt Parkway to the unknown. To a new life. A life I was so looking forward to with hope and love. But leaving was a departure and a letting go. An ending. To move forward we must properly pay homage to those places and times in our lives that we are departing and shifting away from. Because the years mattered and deserve respect in the chronicle of a life.
Little by little the unknown became the next chapter of my life. The years to follow became settled. And the roots took hold year after year, the tapestry was blossoming. Life was happening in an ebb and flow of days and months and years. The home we moved to nearly 20 years ago, and just left last month, was where my children grew up. I trust they may pay visits back to the area, the road, the house, the friends to remember, to reflect. To honor the passage of time and to grasp a memory or two as a way to confirm who they were, who they are. The years in the tapestry are all connected. Woven carefully in the order the Universe sets forth.
The broom was the very last tool I used in the old house just before we left that morning. The 7 a.m. hot summer sun was streaming in the windows onto the empty hardwood floors. In each room as I gently swept the floors, I recalled a time, a song, a celebration, a chat, a smile, a tear. Each sweep to pay respect and say thank you for being a wonderful, warm and safe house. A blessing of memories tethering me back to a day, a year, a place. A place of love and laughter and growing. So many firsts in that house. Our children grew up there. They were babies, toddlers, school age kids, high school kids there. First days of school. First cars. First dates. The launch off to college. A place to come home to.
On that last morning, broom in hand, I stood amidst the empty walls and rooms of 18 years gone by. Remaining were just whispers of laughter, tears, joy, surprise. But the new owners won’t hear any of them. They were ours. Vacating a home means leaving it an empty, warm shell for the next family to occupy and create memories within. All that we could leave behind for them was hope. We took the memories with us in our minds and hearts. Of family. Of neighbors, now friends. Starting again. Hope. New beginnings. Home. Where we grow and change. Where we trust in all that the Universe presents to us in a nudge, a whisper, a hunch. Welcome home.